Coastal Conservation Association's Building Conservation Habitat Program joined together with partners to help rebuild the coastline in Terrebonne Parish with Phase II of its Floating Islands Restoration Project.
On Friday, April 19th and Saturday, April 20th project volunteers and partners will place approximately 1,000 feet of synthetic mats in the water. The 5 foot by 20 foot mats can hold 150-200 plants, and will be placed end-to-end and anchored to the water bottom. The "floating islands" technology allows the plants to take root in the water bottom while providing protection from the natural elements.
Phase I of the project, completed in September of 2011 in Point Aux Chene, was the first to use this new technology, developed by Martin EcoSystems, in an open-water application in the marine environment. CCA and their partners have been so pleased with the results from the 2011 effort they decided to expand the project by announcing plans for Phase II.
"Even after the devastating effects of Hurricane Isaac, we found that the floating islands were still thriving and outperforming the surrounding natural marsh," said CCA Louisiana Habitat Chairman John Walther. "It was an easy decision to expand on this project with Phase II, and we are so thankful to our partners for helping make this expansion possible."
Ryan Richard, CCA's Bayou Chapter President, agrees.
"I drive by the Phase I site often, and I am always amazed at how well the project is doing," said Richard. "To think that a group of volunteers, including local school kids, rebuilt our disappearing wetlands like that is very gratifying. I can't wait to get back out there this weekend to build more marsh."
Walther believes the project's success shows that the technology could be used on a broader scale, as part of the State's Coastal Master Plan.
"We have proven that the project is sustainable and resilient," says Walther. "Since we know that it is also cost effective, we believe that this technique could be a useful tool in rebuilding and protecting Louisiana's coastline."
Volunteers will plant two types of marsh grass - smooth cord in the center and seashore paspalum on the edges - to create a habitat component. The plants are installed in the mats onshore and then the mats are moved to the water for installation.
Funding for the project is provided by CCA Building Conservation Trust, Shell Oil Company, Keep Terrebonne Beautiful, Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government and private donations by CCA members. The total project cost is expected to be approximately $100,000. More details here.